Houston Dynamo (8-15-6, seventh in West and eliminated from playoffs)
Head coach: Dominic Kinnear, fifth year
Last week: Beat San Jose 1-0 on the road
Last year: 13-8-9, knocked out Seattle from the postseason
KEY HOUSTON PLAYERS
M Brad Davis — Not many MLS players are better at setting up goals than this guy as his set-piece service is picture perfect. The veteran also has picked up a handful of USMNT caps over the years. If Houston gets on the scoresheet, expect to see his name in parentheses with the assist.
M Geoff Cameron — One of the emerging talents in the league. 25 years old. 6 foot 3. Athletic and skilled, he can play almost anywhere on the field. Was a stalwart defender last season but has pushed into the midfield in 2010. One to keep an eye on because his potential is limitless.
F Dominic Oduro — Has dominated games with his speed alone. He’s been called offside 28 times this season and the organization of the Sounders FC backline will be tested. Consistency has been Nyassi-like this season, so we’ll see which guy shows up.
Seattle F Blaise Nkufo v. Houston D Bobby Boswell — With Fredy Montero suspended, expect the offense to go through the Sounders DP. The smaller dimensions at Robertson Stadium will also put more pressure on the targetman. Boswell’s been around for a long time, we’ll see if the experience shows.
Seattle M Steve Zakuani v. Houston D Andrew Hainault — Zakuani’s 10 goals are phenomenal for an outside midfielder and he’s definitely grown into one of the most dangerous players in the league. Hainault is a big physical guy and will probably need help to contain Zak’s speed.
Seattle form v. Houston motivation — A near sellout crowd is expected for Fan Appreciation Day and a proud Dynamo franchise certainly isn’t going to roll over in this one. Coupled with the Sounders FC winning streak, I expect to see an entertaining game despite the relative lack of importance.
Five-game winning streaks don’t happen very often. Seattle’s on one now and only Real Salt Lake has matched it this season. Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid has stressed staying in rhythm going into the playoffs, but he’s also maintained that staying healthy is important as well — meaning he might rest Alonso/Zakuani/Nkufo in the second half.
I see an up and down game that plays evenly. Seattle is feeling it these days and takes an early lead, but Houston comes back to level things later. Whether or not the 49 points puts them in the West or East, I have no idea. Check out some seeding scenarios here if you like.
Seattle Sounders FC 1, Houston Dynamo 1
SEA — Nkufo (Zakuani) 29′
HOU — Cameron (Davis) 65′